Legal Career PlanningManaging your legal career just makes sense. Your career is your investment. An investment you have paid for with plenty of money, time and effort. It’s an asset you can use to make the most out of your life so it only makes sense to manage it properly, just as you would a monetary investment. Most lawyers don’t plan their careers, they just let them happen. It doesn’t make sense to work so hard and so long to get that law license, and then just take the first job that comes along or to drift through your career hopping from one opportunity to the next. But, for the majority of attorneys, that’s exactly what happens. Why? Many times it is because we don’t have a clear vision of who we are, what we want and where we want to go.
Important questions to ask yourself:Whether you are just starting out or in the middle of your legal career, it is important to know what you ultimately want. Even if your ultimate goal changes from time to time, you need a clear direction to move toward. Here are some questions:
1. What do I want out of my life?Your career should serve you, not the other way around. I have seen many lawyers put their careers ahead of their personal lives and later regret it. In planning your career, it is important to first plan your life. Ask yourself:
- What do I want to be doing with my life in 5, 10, 20, 30 years?
- What do I want my life to have meant?
- Looking back on my life, what will I want to have accomplished?
- What outside interests do I want to pursue? What goals outside of the law do I want to achieve?
- How hard do I want to work and how important is money to me?
- What balance of professional and personal life do I want to have?
2. What do I want out of my legal career?You can do a lot of things with a law degree, but what is it that you really want to do? Here are some questions to consider:
- What do I want my legal career to have meant?
- How much money do I need; how much do I want? Is just earning a lot of money my goal? (That’s OK, just be sure you choose it consciously.)
- Do I want to make a difference in the world, country, where I live, in society, the environment?
- Does prestige, fame, power or changing the legal system drive me? Where is my passion?
- Exactly how do I want to spend my time day to day: in trial, writing, researching, preparing documents, working directly with clients…?